New Orleans 2023

Following holiday in Louisiana, I’m happy to advise putting New Orleans top of your bucket list. Everyone should visit at least once – I’m so happy I did. Here are some of the reasons why…….



We might have missed Mardi Gras but in the French Quarter where we were based, it was party time all the time. New Orleans is renowned for its music, especially jazz, and it was everywhere – on the streets, in the bars, in the parks and courtyards. “Souped up” cars and three wheeled motor bikes added to the sound with rap blaring from huge speakers and revving engines at junctions.


Oysters, Alligator and French fries in Creole House Restaurant, Canal Street Bar – no facility to make reservations but welcome to drink cocktails on the street while you wait for a table. If you miss your name being called – you go to the end of the list!!! Fun waitress was really helpful with menu choices.




New Orleans Breakfast

Breakfast on the first morning in the Fleur de Lis – enough to feed an army



There were dozens of local restaurants with top class food – Cajun and Creole dishes were top of the list – oysters (cooked in so many ways), shrimp (massive), red beans, jambalaya with afters of Bread Pudding , Beignets (sugary doughnuts), Cocktails (Mint Julips recommended but my fave in the city of Katrina was a Hurricane) – didn’t try the po’boys (a type of sandwich), or the gumbo ( a kind of stew) or the crawfish (when told it was a mud bug). Would have to remark too that portion sizes were massive. Everywhere sold “drink to go” often in phallic shaped containers!!!


Naturally we visited the Hurricane Katrina exhibition in the Presbytere – hard to believe it was 17 years ago and there are still reminders of the damage – most prominently the blue tarpaulins that still cover some roofs.

We opted to visit the Whitney Plantation to see their exceptional portrayal of the history and legacy of the enslaved rather than the more famous Oak Alley Plantation with its emphasis on the opulence of the landowners. We did pass Oak Alley and its oak lined avenue was certainly impressive.




Our tour to the Chalmette Battlefield gave us an opportunity to show off our singing skills with a rowdy rendition of the Battle of New Orleans –


“In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans
We fired our guns but the British kept a-comin’
There was not as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began a-runnin’
Down the Misiissippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah, they ran through the briers and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico”

We took a city tour New Orleans and were stunned by the architecture of the city – eclectic is the only word I can find to describe the buildings. We tried to recognise whether it was wrought iron and cast iron. We had our dinner on a balcony one night – a pretty shaky affair!!!

Having watched the film Double Jeopardy, a trip to one of the city’s many cemeteries was a must – St Louis Cemetery #1, spanning an entire city block was where we ‘ended up’. Cemeteries, also known as Cities of the Dead are made up of avenues of elaborately carved mausoleums (also known as oven tombs???? Google the process for a macabre read). Burial above ground is required because of the high water table.


Old Man River or the muddy Mississippi dominates the city and of course we took a dinner trip on a paddle steamer. Probably a bit underwhelming, it did give a fine view of the city and the guide had lots of interesting tales about the history and geography. Some of the ravages of Katrina were also more obvious from the water.



Our second trip on the Mis was a cross-river ferry trip to Algiers, a haven of tranquillity compared to the city where we strolled through streets of fabulous houses and enjoyed a ‘quiet’ meal outside. It was so peaceful walking along the levee.


Made famous by the Tennessee William’s play, this trolley no longer exists. It was replaced by the St. Charles Avenue Green Trolley, now the most notable and oldest line. Our streetcar trip was cut short as the St Patrick’s Day Parade route ran alongside the track. It was still an experience to trundle through the business district into uptown.


The parade was a bonus- everyone dressed in green and carrying large bags for the goodies that would be thrown into the crowd. We had barely acknowledged our “irishness” with a small green bow; however we soon were covered in beads and badges, and in possession of a collection of toys once our Irish accents were noticed and we became the centre of attention at the corner where we stood.




We didn’t realise that there was Tennessee Williams festival planned while we were in New Orleans. We were lucky enough to get tickets for Cat in Le Petit Theatre off Jackson Square. The audience participation was very different from home – the lady beside me contributed “Yeah Momma” whenever she agreed with sentiments from the leading lady. With no bar or toilets in the theatre, the audience had to adjourn to the bar next door at the interval. Worth the visit!


I usually read something, fact or fiction, that will give a flavour to my holiday destination and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole was the recommended pre-New Orleans reading material. What a surprise to find a statue of Ignatius, the hero of the book, quite close to our hotel:

In the shadow under the green visor of the cap, Ignatius Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes Department Store studying the crowds of people for signs of bad taste in dress. (J Kennedy Toole 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction)


Our bus driver, Butch, gave an amazing commentary on the history of the swamps and piracy in New Orleans as we travelled out to Lafitte (called after a pirate who helped Jackson win the battle of New Orleans). On the airboat trip we managed to see alligators (one right beside the boat so suddenly I didn’t even get a photo) and turtles. The guide’s effort to talk about flora and fauna was continuously disrupted by a pair who were high on something, but the moss covered cypress trees, the various grasses and water plants were exactly what one sees in films and the airboat experience meant the trip was not a complete waste of time.

Would I go back to NOLA? I don’t think so. But I’m so glad to have been there.



Oak Alley Plantation





The Louisiana oak with Spanish moss




Antoine “Fats” Domino @ The Legends Bar, Bourbon Street – All day jazz club. Had breakfast here to live jazz music.






Travelling down river on the Creole Queen paddle steamer





A mansion in the Garden District



Some locals from the Irish Channel all set for the Patricks Day Parade



A Hotel Monteleone breakfast – cocktails at the Carousel Bar (revolving as name would suggest) are a must.



St. Brigid 1500 and a new National Holiday

St. Brigid is the female patron saint of Ireland. She was born in the middle of the 5th century during an era of great change in Irish history, the beginning of Christianity. She was actually born into a pagan community and converted to Christianity. So both her life and her legacy spanned periods of religious change.

Many of the stories and legends associated with St Brigid date to the earlier goddess Brigit/Brigantia; St. Brigid’s feast day of the 1st of February falls on the same date as the pagan Imbolc festival that marks the beginning of Spring.

Coming from a family with many Brigids (grandmother, aunt, cousins) and living and teaching in Kildare where she founded her famous monastery, it was difficult not to have an interest in this lady.

Many of the miracles attributed to St. Brigid took place around Kildare town which became an important place of pilgrimage from the Early Medieval Period. There is still a focus on pilgrimage in Kildare today. That legacy is particularly embodied within St. Brigid’s Cathedral in the heart of Kildare town and at the more newly established Brigidine Solas Bhríde Centre, located on the outskirts of the town.

And so we come to this year’s particular celebration of ‘Brigid 1500’ as we look at Brigid, the woman and her the life and legacy in a broad and rich way. The main aim of ‘Brigid 1500’ is to appeal to a diverse contemporary audience and engage them in meaningful way with the ‘Brigid’ story and heritage. It is hoped also to provide a relevant link with the past and with Brigid’s own values of faith and spirituality, biodiversity and sustainability, arts and culture, social justice, peace, hospitality and education. The ‘Brigid 1500’ programme comprises of initiatives including festivals, concerts, talks, art commissions, illuminations, pilgrimages, and craft workshops.

Brigid around the world

It was interesting for me as a child to see that Brigid was recognised around the world. There were many churches dedicated to her across “the British Isles” some of them relating to stories that she travelled there as a holy lady but others relating to the pagan goddess.

However, I only realised this year with a planned visit to New Orleans, that Brigid features in the voodoo culture of New Orleans as Maman Brigitte. Voodoo is a cross cultural religion which supposedly developed in the Caribbean around the 18th Century at the height of the slave trade. Maman Brigitte, sometimes symbolised by a black rooster, is the only goddess whose did not originate in Africa; she is probably a blend of cultures and beliefs of enslaved people from Africa and indentured servants from Ireland. She was associated closely with death and cemeteries. Like our Brigid, she was also known to be a powerful healer and a protector of women.



Malachy Clerkin’s Three unwise men

Come on you reds: Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and Gary Neville

Great credits for this piece of poetry to Malachy Clerkin, Irish Times Sports writer, Sat Dec 24 2022 – a very humerous synopsis of World Cup punditry over the last few weeks

I’m always on the lookout for a witty piece of poetry. So I could hardly avoid this, a parody of my favourite Christmas Poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Throw into the mix that it’s a play on BBC’s broadcasts of the craic and banter between Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Micah Richardson over the World Cup: you’ll understand how I just had to have it in my blog.

Three unwise men: ‘Twas the night before Christmas…

Come on you reds: Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and Gary Neville

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
The accents were squabbling – Cork, Manc and Scouse.
There was Carragher and Neville and obviously Roy Keane,
And their dudgeon was high, and their language obscene.

“How the *%^& can you say that? You’re a right *%^&ing fool.”
Roy roared this at Gary, who rocked on his stool.
“Don’t start on me, mate,” was Neville’s retort.
“It’s not life or death here – we’re just talking sport.”

“Calm down the pair of you,” Jamie jumped in.
“Either kiss and make up now or get in the bin.”
“GO *%^& YOURSELF, CARRA,” screamed Gary and Roy,
And Jamie went quiet, a good little boy.

Here was the problem – the lads were wound up.
They’d spent the past month at the Qatar World Cup.
There’d been days in the desert and nights in the bars
And it all took its toll and they came home with scars.

There’d been talk about protests and what it all meant,
Of cash and backhanders and where it all went.
Talk about cultures, talk about gays,
Of yer man Infantino, his tedious ways.

There was also some football, conveniently for Fifa,
England won 6-2 at Stadium Khalifa.
The ITV panel was buzzing and rocking,
Until Roy nailed Iran with a single word: “Shocking.”

There were goals for Ronaldo, some his and some not.
And Messi scored seven, with four from the spot.
Giroud and Mbappé scored bagfuls for France
And Roy got annoyed at Brazilians who dance.

He was generally okay though, amused by it all,
Until England went two up on poor Senegal.
Harry Kane scored and Neville just lost it.
But Keane didn’t flinch, so cool he looked frostbit.

Everyone wondered what he wrote in his notes
While Wrighty and Gary were clearing their throats.
It was all quite straightforward, he simply wrote down:
“How much longer will I have to work with this clown?”

The weeks trundled by and England went out,
And Neymar stopped dancing, no more twist or shout.
Croatia were dogged, Morocco were fun
But when it all ended, there was only one.

It was Messi’s World Cup and he got the glory,
The best final ever, a beautiful story.
And everyone came home, exhausted and wrecked,
Ready to rest and take time to reflect.

Until Jamie popped up in the trio’s WhatsApp,
Refreshed and relaxed and just up from a nap.
He’d had the month off, not giving a fig,
No travel, no Qatar and no TV gig.

“All right lads!” he chirped as he welcomed them back.
Neither replied as they’d both hit the sack.
But Jamie persisted, he was keen as could be
To get back in studio, Sky Sports’ Big Three.

So he took out his phone and he started to type.
The boys needed lifting, they needed some hype.
“No time for lounging or World Cup fatigue,
“It’s back to the grindstone, the Premier League!”

That got a reaction – Roy said: “You what?!”
Jamie said: “You’re back on.” And Roy said: “I’m not!”
And Gary chimed in, crying: “Give us a break!
“Don’t put us together, at least for my sake.”

This could get nasty so Jamie thought quick.
“I know what I’ll do now, I’ll channel Saint Nick.”
He went back to them both with a trick up his sleeve,
And sent them an invite: his house, Christmas Eve.

They both turned up grumbling – “Why the *%^& are we here?”
“Belt up, lads,” said Carra, “Have Christmas good cheer!”
And though they were grouchy and grumpy and gruff,
They heard Jamie out, as they liked him enough.

“I know it’s been tense and I know it’s been hard.
“The World Cup was long and you went every yard.
“But life’s getting better, it’s all looking up,
“At least you weren’t stuck with the Carabao Cup.”

He fed them and schmoozed them and got them together,
But both were still close to the end of their tether.
They couldn’t believe there wasn’t a pause,
No time for festivities, no Santa Claus.

“This is bullshit,” said Roy. “It’s absolute nonsense.
“Whoever has done this has no *%^&ing conscience.
“Tell you this much for nothing – whatever occurs,
“There’s no way I’m working at Brentford v Spurs.”

That was all Jamie needed, his opening was clear
He said, “Don’t worry Roy, they’re not that severe.
“You can both have the week off, take your sweet time.
“The Boxing Day games are on Amazon Prime.”

“Stephen’s Day,” muttered Roy before letting it slide.
“No game till next Friday is doable,” he sighed.
And Gary perked up: “Let’s not let it fester.
“We’ll probably feel better come Liverpool v Leicester.”

Suddenly the trio were sitting straight up,
To hell with exhaustion, forget the World Cup.
They talked about Pep and they talked about Klopp,
They’d fully forgotten that Arsenal are top.

Now Haaland, now Salah, now Foden and Saka!
On Almiron, Mitrovic, Rashford and Xhaka!
Now financial doping and reffing mistakes,
On Glazers and oligarchs, Saudis and sheikhs.

By the time they were finished, the lads had come round.
And Gary and Roy had found common ground.
They got in a circle and made sure to hug tight.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!



King Charles selected this poem to be red at the Royal Christmas Concert on Christmas Eve. It is the story of the Flight into Egypt by Malcolm Guite and its resonance in today’s world.

The Flight into Egypt. Giotto di Bondone
The Flight into Egypt Giotto di Bondone

REFUGEE by Malcolm Guite

We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want.

For even as we sing our final carol

His family is up and on that road,

Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,

Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower

Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

Fairytale for Messi

“I had the feeling that this was the one.” — Lionel Messi after winning the World Cup for the first time.

Having watched every one of the 63 matches of the 2022 World Cup tournament, I spent the evening of the final with the Naas Active Retirement Group in the 3 Arena. I did sneak a peek of the match progress during the interval and was delighted to see Argentina 2-0 up. At next check-in, 45 minutes later the score showed as 2-all – what had happened?

Extra time had just finished as we left our seats at the end of the show. Both teams had scored. We joined some other football fans to listen to the penalty shoot-out. Relief – Argentina, the obvious favourites in the 3 Arena, had won.

I read all the post-match reports today, but decided to trawl the replay channels and at least experience the excitement of the highlights. Even though I knew the result, it was till an amazing match of ups and downs where the winning team had to win three times. That’s sport. According to the media today it was one of the best finals in history.

SOME QUOTES from a TOURNAMENT of contradictions:


“After the World Cup road works and construction begins again and labour is so poorly valued that the workers have no water, and maybe no pay for months at a time. This is the real Doha”.

“Death is a natural part of life, whether it is at work, whether it is in your sleep,” said Qatar’s chief executive Nasser Al-Khater, when asked about ‘Alex,’ a Filipino national who died while working at the Sealine resort, Saudi Arabia’s training base in Mesaieed.

Everyone is welcome in Qatar,” insists the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, “but we are a conservative country and any public display of affection, regardless of orientation, is frowned upon. We simply ask for people to respect our culture.”

Gianni Infantino’s tribute to a tournament that has netted millions for Soccer: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker.”

On opening night Morgan Freeman asks: “Am I welcome?”

Seven European captains abandoning the One Love armband, designed to support LGBTQ+ rights, for fear of receiving a yellow card, prompted Roy Keane to comment: “The players could have done it for the first game. I think it was a big mistake by both players, they should have stuck to their guns, if that’s what you believe then go with it.”

Roy Keane’s comment about Brazilian celebrations of goals “I don’t mind the first kind of little jig – whatever they’re doing – but they’re still doing it after that, and then the manager getting involved with it.

Hassan Al Thawadi’s, Secretary General at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy comments on human rights: “We are a relatively conservative culture. In the West the individual’s personal rights always trump, let’s say, the community rights. That’s what is most sacred. But there are other societies, the Arab world being one of them, in the Middle East, it is the communal values, which is fundamentally related to religion, that is of a higher value, of higher importance.”


Knitting & Stitching in Harrowgate 2022

A combination of Brexit and Covid conspired to take the annual Knitting and Stitching show out of RDS Ireland. So our group of four Irish knitters and stitchers set out for the November Harrowgate Show.

WEDNESDAY 16th November

Despite the Aer Lingus delay we reached Bradford and commuted firstly to Leeds, arriving before most of the shops opened. An English breakfast in a small coffee shop set us up for the long day ahead. The various Leeds Arcade which were the attraction, didn’t fail to impress us and retail therapy started early in the trip with purchases of socks (by me) and jewelry.

The bus journey to Harrowgate gave us a fine view of the rolling dales of Yorkshire – a surprise for me as I expected the harsh and isolated moors of the Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

We arrived in the spa town of Harrowgate in the afternoon and found our way to The Crown Hotel.  The hotel was a testament to the history of the town, with a history dating back over 300 years, its enviable location moments from many of Harrogate’s most popular sites and close to the convention centre where the trade exhibition  would take place. The hotel was set with a wide open vista of a selection of impressive Victorian and Georgian crescents. In our initial mooch around the town (we were reserving the serious shopping for Friday) showed  architecture, galleries, antique shops and tea rooms the most famous of which Betty’s Tea Rooms which still has the charm and the delicious pastries of the early 1900’s when it was founded.

Bettys: Famous Yorkshire tearoom reaches its centenary - BBC News

THURSDAY 17th November

My first workshop was scheduled for 10am so after a leisurely breakfast i strolled down to the Convention Centre. It was teeming rain but that mattered little as an indoor day was planned with the following workshops booked.

  1. Vintage Botanical Stitched Fabric Journal with Ami James.
  2. A Christmas Robin – Free motion Embroidery with Helen Moyes
  3. Giraffe Applique for a Cushion Cover with Delphine Brooks

There was of course some ‘compulsory’ shopping in the main hall between workshops and also viewing of the galleries – my favourite was that of the Embroidery Guild with their display of Embroidery across the decades and the Guinness Book of Records longest piece of embroidery.

The World's Longest Embroidery.

Work on this embroidery started in 2003 and in 2009 it measured more than 605 metres, a new Guinness World Record. The embroidery piece was hand worked by 7000 embroiderers from all over the world and contained a plethora of designs, colours and subject matters, including 3D insects, flowers, people’s names, etc. People were free to add to work during the show whatever motif they wanted.

FRIDAY 18th November

Today was dedicated to rummaging in the many Charity and Vintage Shops of Harrowgate from which a selection of jewelry, dressing gowns, dresses and kimonos were added to the craft stash of yesterday, all of us hopeful that we would be within the 10kg that Aer Lingus allowed for carry-on luggage. Right in the middle of the Montpelier Mews, we were delighted to find Jenny’s Tea Shop, a tiny little  for home-made soup and Quiche and sandwiches.


We all agreed that Harrowgate had still plenty to offer us if we returned for another visit.


FI had a very interesting October Sunday Session in Killester yesterday. Fiona Leech talked us through her journey into felt. Probably known to many of you social media users, Fiona is the face of FeltAtHomeDesigns and also Membership Secretary and Workshop Organiser for Feltmakers.


Fiona gave us an inspiring insight into her early career with lots of samples for us to touch and feel as well as notebooks where she developed ideas.
We viewed an early hand-knitted wall panel of a Henri Matisse lady – all done with scraps of wool and NO PATTERN.
Everyone fell in love with her Aardvark crochet family and will be searching for Toft amigurumi crochet patterns of the ‘many animal in the world’.
Her 100 Days project was picked up by an Australian Magazine, Artwear Publications that extolled her talents as a textile artist.
We were all very appreciative of Fiona’s generosity in her willingness to share how she achieved the clean cut circles that identify much of  her current art.
Thanks to Fiona and Dee who managed to have coffee and cake for our break although the Coffee Dock was closed.



For many years, Oberammergau has been on my bucket list. I was fascinated by the many facts that I’d heard about the Passion Play held there every 10 years. Luckily the 2020 event was postponed because of Covid and I realised that for this once in a decade occasion, I could not procrastinate for too much longer.

Oberammergau is a small village located in Bavaria in Germany among the stunning Ammergau Alps. Nearly 400 years ago the history of the Passion Play began. The plague raged in many parts of Europe during 1633 and it did not spare the village of Oberammergau either. The villagers soughtvrefuge in prayernand vowed to perform the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every tenth year. The first play took place in 1634, in the cemetery next to the parish church, supposedly on the graves of the plague victims. Seemingly there were no further deaths from the plague.

Later, in 1830, the performance space relocated to the northern edge of the village, where it still remains today but in a modern open-air theatre with amazing acoustics The villagers’ promise was kept until 2020, when the play had to be postponed for two years, this time due to another plague, the corona-pandemic.

To be considered as a performer in the Passion Play, you have to be born in the village, be married to a local for 10 or more years, or live there personally for 20 years. No exceptions to these rules are made.

Costumes are made by villagers and for accuracy and authenticity on stage, no wigs are allowed. A “Hair and Beard Decree” comes into play in March of the year of the performance so there are no trips to the barbers.

Over 2,000 locals take part every 10 years, but there are only around 124 speaking roles up for grabs. Some of the scenes include 64 vocalists and 55 instrumentalists sitting in the orchestra pit.



After landing in Frankfurt, we travelled to Wurzburg. According to tradition, the first Bishop of Wurzburg found the remains of the Irish saint, Killian and built two churches on the spot c. 1060. These churches underwent renovation and changes over the years until the entire city of Wurzburg was destroyed on 16th March 1945. However in the years since the chey have both been restored.St Killian is held in very high esteem in this town with many of the eldest boys in a family being named after him. Wurzburg is a lovely town, particularly the Saints Bridge across the river Maine. With a small deposit on a glass, I had a ‘take away’ local wine sitting on the wall of the bridge.

We then continued to Nuremburg to stay in the lovely Novina Hotel. After a super dinner – what a selection of foods – and few scoops, I was more than ready for the bed.


After breakfast, we went on a tour of the city of Nuremburg with Andreas, a German guide. The weather was dreadful making the cobbled streets very precarious. But we climbed to the top of the Imperial Castle and looked across the beautiful city which for centuries was regarded as the cradle of European culture, with grand residences, ancient walls and an old castle. Nuremburg was the city of Nazi rallies and the Nuremburg racial laws.

Andreas explained that the new Germany acknowledged Nuremburg’s part in the National Socialist barbarity and accepted the destruction of the city in 53 minutes on the 2nd January 1945, the death of 1800 people and the loss of 6 centuries of history as part of the consequences. Siting the Nuremburg trials in its Palace of Justice was just as much symbolic as practical: it was one of the few towns with a prison alongside a court.

Nuremburg is now restored to its former beauty. There a many tributes to Duhrer to be seen around the city – my favourite was the hare sculpture in the square where Duhrer lived and the Ship of Fools in the market square. The Nuremburg traditional gingerbread was delicious. Nuremburg is a city of fountains – the Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) which was more a public well for water in the 14th-century was shaped like a Gothic spire in the main market square.







We departed Nuremburg for Altotting stopping off in Augsburg to see the famous painting of Our Lady, Untier of Knots in the church of St Peter. Pope Francis is said to have been particularly inspired by this wonderful painting and frequently prays to Our Lady to undo the knots of life.

The Hotel Plankl in Altotting was our destination. After dinner a few of us explored the town, found a lovely bar and shared (a few) bottles of wine.


We spent the morning exploring Altotting. Since the 9th Century the Black Madonna has been one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations in Central Europe. Pope Benedict who was reared near here often stayed here – also in Hotel Plankl.

In the afternoon, we travelled out to Markt Marktl where Benedict was born. We all remarked at how big his house was, but the guide informed us that the building housed the Police Station (his father was a police officer), a customs post (Austria is only a few miles away) and accommodation for the police and custom officers as well as Benedict’s home.



After an early breakfast, we set off for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This German ski resort in Bavaria was formed when 2 towns united in 1935 for the Winter Olympics, often called the Nazi Olympics.

Our destination, the Riessersee Hotel was fabulous and being allocated a suite overlooking the lake was the icing on the cake. My balcony afforded a unique view down into the valley although there was little chance to enjoy it before being whisked off to Oberammergau. The shortening days of September moved the performance start time to 1.30.

Oberammergau was stunning. Most of the houses have colourful murals or Luftmalerei, the older ones illustrating martyrs, passion scenes and famous citizens and events. More recent illustrations are of nursery rhyme and fairytale characters. The Hansel and Gretl house is magnificent. The shops along the route to the theatre have wonderful displays of wooden ornaments and Christmas decorations, sometimes the woodworker is actually carving outside the door.

Wood carver

Men and women were separated into different queues, probably because the women generally have handbags and the search might cause delays. The banter between the spectators was lively as we shared stories of our journeys here.


Inside we were directed to really good seats; the view of the mountains behind the stage was awesome. The play revolved around the mystery of the Psssion of Jesus in both a dramatic as well as a meditative way. Between scenes, moments of the Old Testament were depicted as ‘living pictures’. The scale of the production with 2.000 actors and live animals, up to 400 on the stage at one time, was unbelievable. The score was haunting and the acoustics of the theatre allowed it to reverberate right through the audience.

The play was in German, meaning that the dialogue didn’t distract from the action. A copy of the script in English was made available but I decided it would be better read after the play. The play was approximately five and half hours long, performed in two acts with dinner served in the village during the intermission. While not a culinary delight, there was a selection of Bavarian and international food. We had a little time for shopping before returning to the theatre.


A quick trip back to Oberammergau this morning for some shopping and outdoor Mass (in the pelting rain) before onward journey to Munich. The city centre roads were all blocked off in Munch for a music festival. So we got a festival and a quick run around Munich and then off to airport.

The holiday/pilgrimage met all expectations and I certainly wouldn’t rule out a 2030 trip to Oberammergau. It wasn’t oppressively “holy” but it gave opportunity for contemplation and questioning.


Return to the Gaeltacht

D’fhreasatil mé ar Gaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne i 1972 ón Coláiste Oiliúna. Is múinteoir scartha mé anois agus shochraigh me ar ath-chuairt ar an nGaeltacht an Samhradh seo chun an teanga a chleachtadh. Fuair me lóistín le Gertie and Seamus ina dteach “An Guirín” I mBaile an Lochaigh. Bhi teach álainn acu – an chompórdach le radharcanna áille ó gach fuinneog agus ba bhreá an fháilte a chuir bean an tí romham.  Chuaigh mé ar turas bus timpeall Shlí Cheann Sléibhe.

Chuimhin me ar na heachtraí go léir a bhí agam agus na háiteanna eagsúla ar a thug mé cuairt mar scoláire na blianta ó shin – Coumeenole, Cé Dhún Chaoin, Na Blascaoid, Trá Dhún an Óir, Muiríoch,

Bhain me an-taitneamh as na laethannnta mar scoláire/taistealaí arís.